Drink Local! Drink Bonny Doon
Lenn, who has always been a big supporter of his local wineries, gave us a cue to check out our own with Wine Blogging Wednesday: the local edition. The really local edition I must say, as the rule laid down by our WBW master was to drink wine from the winery nearest to our abode. Lenn even threatened to fact check if he had to.
Oh dear. It's a little complicated, isn't it? How do I know which winery is nearest to San Francisco? With the plethora of vineyards in this valley and that around the city, would I have to bring out my measuring tape to see which one would win? I haven't a clue. Oh well, I'm not in San Francisco this week anyway, I'm in Santa Cruz, so Santa Cruz wine it is then. Luckily, it's a tad easier to find the nearest winery to us here. Yes, you guessed it, the famous Bonny Doon vineyard, which is not only near us, but practically right on the mountain overlooking the beaches where we go surfing every week - and by surfing I mean, for my part, sunning on the beach. Anyhoo, can't get any local-er than that!
So this Monday I cooked a little dinner at home for us and a few friends, a Thai dinner composed of mainly local ingredients, in honor of the Eat Local Challenge. We served some local beers, well not within-100-mile local, but the Sierra Nevada Summerfest came from Chico, and the Summer Solstice came from the legendary Boonville Brewing Company near Mendocino. Also with that dinner was a local wine that fit perfectly well with my spice-laden Thai food, Bonny Doon's Pacific Rim Dry Riesling.
This wine, billed as the "unbearable lightness of Riesling", is a perfect example of the whimsy of most Bonny Doon's wines, which include Cardinal Zin, Le Cigare Volant, and Old Telegram. Not to mention the Critique of Pure Riesling, which poses the whimsical question "kant or won't" while suggesting that "Kant would clearly have benefited with a higher dose of acid." Can I say whimsical again or will someone kick me?
These names are meant for laughter, but the wines are no laughing matter. While many mid-range California producers go for cookie cutter styles sure to please your average BevMo shoppers, Randal Grahm, the man behind the curtain at Bonny Doon, aims to make wine with character. And he sure doesn't disappoint. Each of his wine has a distinct character that is clearly a bold, unabashed expression of the particular type of wine it's supposed to be. One might say he went for a shout at the top of his lungs rather than a soft whisper in the ear, but such brute honesty deserves respect entirely on its own merit. He also encourages his grape farmers to farm biodynamically, believing that the active microbial life in the soil allows for much better mineral extraction, ergo a greater possibility of expression of terroir. The man has got his thinking cap on, he might have a screw loose somewhere too, but certainly his thinking cap is on tight.
And what of this Pacific Rim Dry Riesling you asked? Entirely respectable I'd say. No one would ever mistake it for the majestic German Rieslings, not even the noble Alsatian cousins, but its zingy acidity alone should put to shame many a flabby California White at double the price. The nose was rather muted, even after quite a while outside the fridge, but it was still true to the Riesling characteristic, down to the hint of your garagiste boyfriend's underarm.
Matching perfectly well with this wine, we had a spicy stir-fry of squid with homemade Nam-prik Pao Thai chilli paste, Thai grilled chicken, Gai Yang, redolent of garlic, cilantro roots, lemongrass, and turmeric, another stir-fry of cauliflower and garlic, and delicious new-harvest Jasmine rice. The squids came from Monterey, the chicken from the local Fulton Farm, the cauliflower from Happy Garden farm, but the rice came all the way from Thailand I'm afraid. You can take a girl out of Bangkok, but you can't make her eat jasmine rice from elsewhere but Thailand.